Xhariep DTDC Aug 2016FunDza’s Popularising Reading programme is attracting a lot of organisations, schools, NGOs and reading clubs. The programme has grown even bigger thanks to a partnership with Vodacom Foundation. Vodacom has set up 81 teacher centres across the country. These provide spaces for teacher training, especially on how to integrate ICT in the classroom, providing access to equipment and educational content. The centres are equipped with interactive boards, laptops, desktops, servers, data projectors, routers and printers.

In terms of the partnership with FunDza, Vodacom has signed up 20 of these centres to be beneficiaries within FunDza’s Popularising Reading programme. FunDza issues each centre with 100 of its books, along with additional resource materials. FunDza is currently engaging with the centre managers and people using the books to help them use the books and resources effectively. It has set up email lists and WhatsApp groups in an attempt to create platforms for idea generation and to facilitate sharing and problem-solving. Vodacom Foundation staff as well as relevant members within the Department of Basic Education (DBE) are also involved.

The Vodacom centres are situated throughout the nine provinces. This means that many more people within the education and literacy space will get to know more about FunDza. According to data gathered within two months of working with the centres, we have learned: each centre is dedicated to cater for approximately 30 schools. This translates into around 3,000 learners per centre. These are pretty good statistics for the FunDza programme, which is all about ‘popularising reading’!

We’re delighted that the Vodacom Foundation has chosen to partner with us and expand our reach. We believe that this bears testament to the quality of the books that we use within the programme. These are carefully created and selected. They reflect the lives of our readers: teens in South Africa.

There are so few books and stories that speak to the issues that young people face when they are growing up… but our books and stories do just this. They aren’t dry or boring either. They are full of pace and excitement – the stuff that keeps readers turning the page until they are hooked on stories and books.

Vodacom Foundation’s Digital Classroom has also placed some of FunDza’s stories on their platform which is easily accessible to teachers, subject advisors, department heads and learners. When I visited the Vodacom centre in Kuilsriver, I was able to explore the technology on offer.

It’s great to have the Vodacom Foundation on board. We look forward to working hard with their centres to help build communities of avid readers through our books. This is a great challenge and one we plan to work hard to overcome. A big welcome to the Vodacom Foundation!